Fearless Living in Jordan

You might wonder what this beautiful, blond, self-help author and this grey-bearded, Syrian refugee have in common.

Years ago, before Oprah, before Starting Over, before she was America’s #1 Life Coach, Rhonda Britten and I were friends.  Even then, as a young, 20-something, she was full of wisdom and optimism.

I remember being amazed at her beautiful, rented apartment painted in feminine colors and angels.  She replaced the industrial shades with soft, white curtains.  Saving my dollars, it never occurred to me to spend my money to decorate someone else’s property.

Her answer has always guided me,

I don’t know how long I will live here, but I want this space to be my home.  Having the colors I love makes me feel like it is mine.  When I open the door, I feel safe and warm.

During the Salam Neighbor filming in Jordan, people have shown their make-shift classrooms and sleeping mats inside of their UNHCR tents.  The camp’s desert sameness is a bit dreary.

fearless living jordan salam neighbor fountain zaatari camp

The other day, three, red-haired boys appeared and pulled Zach and Chris’ hands.  They led them through the tents to a beautiful fountain their father had built in the middle of the Za’atari Refugee Camp.

An innovative recycler, Ziyad has decorated their camper, planted a garden and built a bread oven.

As he told Zach and Chris his story, he explained his efforts by pointing to his sons and saying,

I don’t know how long we are going to have to live here.  I want my family to feel at home.

Regardless of how temporary our lives might be, our hearts are filled with joy when we feel we are at home.  Creating beauty amidst the ugliness in the world is Fearless Living.


You can read the entire posting called Neighbors of Za’atari Part Two – Ziyad. at Livingonone.org.

What does the daily life of a Syrian refugee really look like?

In partnership with 1001 MEDIA, Living on One founders Chris and Zach have just launched Salam Neighbor. They are on a bold, immersive journey into the heart of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis. From January 19th through February 15th, Chris and Zach will live alongside refugee families in Jordan to uncover the daily realities, struggles, successes and dreams of displaced Syrians.

Chris and Zach can’t do it without your participation! As they film they will be releasing weekly blogs and live-stream hangout sessions to hear and help answer your most pressing questions about the humanitarian crisis and life as a refugee.

Join the Salam Neighbor film and journey. Learn about the humanitarian crisis. Take action to change the world!


Say It Ain’t So Giuse Maggi – May 20 and 21 2013 Workshop

The Book of the Truth by Giuse Maggi 2013

Internationally-known, glass artist, Giuse Maggi, like the rest of the world, has turned to plastic.

How did this development come about?

Recycled glass has been the foundation of her work.  Her trademark, glass bottle plates have been a staple at all her shows.  However, after years of wrapping herself in a flame-proof apron and wearing thick gloves and goggles to melt glass in 450 degree heat, she decided to experiment and turned to the most ubiquitous, manmade, material on earth – plastic.  Giuse told me, in her Italian-accent,

“I wanted a material which was not so fra-gile.  I dis-covered how easy plas-tic is to melt and shape.”

The large, hanging piece, she calls “Inner Space” is made out of 6,000 water bottles.  Her other pieces in the RE exhibit include a second, hanging piece made from one hundred, milk cartons; colored, detergent bottle creations; several flowers; and a book fabricated from a countless number of melted, plastic grocery bags.  The pieces are not just about creating beauty from waste, but includes her warning about our consumer society.

Giuse finds plastic to be one of the most useful and easily manipulated materials- offering her endless possibilities. She compulsively cuts, melts, presses and ties … begging us to consider our harsh reality: that 45,000 tons of plastic a year are dumped into our world’s oceans, critically harming marine life.

– from the RE Exhibit.

One strong message is about plastic’s toxicity.

The cancer causing process

In a public discussion, this geologist turned artist said she would never do high heat, plastic melting again.  The plastic, especially the detergent bottles, poisoned her body and literally made her sick.  Weeks after finishing the exhibit, a metallic taste lingers in her mouth.  She tries to extinguish the affect with food and drink, but a few hours after eating, it returns.  She warned heating plastic should only be done in a highly ventilated room or outside.

For re-creating plastic into jewelry, Giuse suggests only using a candle flame.  “It is safer,” she said.

However, her experience makes me wonder about the use of plastics for anything – from the Downey detergent bottles, the clear plastic, cover molded around my new, plastic toothbrush to the millions of plastic toys baby’s insert into their mouths.  Creating plastic products requires a high heat process which sends the fumes into the air.  After its short life in our homes, the dumped plastic takes approximately 1,000 years to break into small bits, allowing its base chemicals to flow into the soil and water systems.

Consumer manufacturers have turned to plastic because, like Giuse, they discovered how easy and cheap it is to mold.  The question becomes – are we trading our clean air for convenience, ease of delivery and the manufacturers’ quarterly profits?

Giuse continues to lecture on recycling plastic.  This week at the Waterline Gallery, she is teaching how to transform our waste into jewelry, creating wearable art using her cold method.


Artist and teacher Giuse Maggi, will conduct a “RE” jewelry class.  Using recycled plastic and basic tools, you’ll learn how to transform plastic bottles into wearable brooches, hair accessories, bracelets or necklaces.

The workshop will be held for two days – Monday 20th-21st May from 6.00-8.00pm at the Waterline Gallery in the Bahrain Financial Harbor.

The 5BD cost will cover all the tools you will need.

Please confirm your attendance on Facebook or send an email to ysharabi@bfharbour.com


The Waterline Art Gallery, 3rd Floor Atrium, Harbour Mall, Bahrain Financial Harbour.

There is a new entrance into the Financial Harbour at Bab Al Bahrain/Manama City Center.  The Financial Harbour road leads straight to the building, but you will completely circle the Harbor Tower to end up back at the side facing Bab Al Bahrain where the Visitor Parking entrance is located.

After taking the elevator to the third floor, follow the signs to pointing left through the dark offices to enter the gallery.

Signs of Change – Promises to Our Mother


Walking out of St Christopher’s Art Exhibit I noticed a Ritz Cracker box hanging in the frangipani tree.


Carefully stepping on the ice plants, I leaned in for a closer look.  The cardboard were cut in the shapes of leaves.  On the blank side, children pledged to become more conscious consumers – although it was probably not taught to them using those words.



Teach the children so they will bring their lessons home.

There is still time to see the annual Student Art Exhibits at both the Junior School in Sar and the Senior School in Isa Town.

Transforming 1 Ton of Plastic into a Wheelchair

Alaia's collected 2,444 plastic bottles in one week.

Yeah to Alaia and her schoolmates for attempting to collect 10 tonnes of plastic bottles to buy ten wheelchairs.  The 120 students turned in over 20,196 plastic bottles to the recycler.

But – my heart was broken by the piles of plastic bottles around her.

Alaia alone collected 2,444 water bottles in one week.  If this is a fraction of the bottles generated weekly in this country of 1.2 million, then how many water bottles are opened and tossed out daily worldwide?

As a comparison, once I supplied bottles of water for the 20 students in our Reiki class.  At the end of the day, 16 bottles from the case of 24 were opened, sipped from and left nearly full as trash under the chairs.  This was a group of adult healers working to raise their consciousness.

I remember listening to a NPR interview with Dr. Jeffrey Meikle.  He had written a book celebrating plastics on its 100th anniversary.  Dr. Meikle rhapsodized over the thousands of plastic innovations.  When Norris, the interviewer, pressed him about the environmental concerns, Dr. Meikle pulled out the patriot card saying plastics were democratic because it allowed millions of people to buy cheap things they could not normally afford.   Norris pressed him again.

NORRIS:  But Professor Meikle, there’s no denying that tons and tons of these products remain in landfills all over the world.

Dr. MEIKLE:  That’s right. And they will remain there, basically, forever. I suppose that it’s very similar to what you do with nuclear waste. What do you do with plastics? We are creating things that we will never be able to get rid of. And I suspect that that is the major problem with plastics.

The flaw in his comparing nuclear waste and plastic is that millions of people don’t have access to cheap nuclear energy like they do to cheap plastic consumer products.  Secondly because plastics are so cheap, we simply discard them when we are done and buy another.

Every year it takes a day to repack all of my Christmas ornaments.  My Filipino helper asked me, “Why don’t you just buy new decorations?  In my country, we throw out our tree and decorations and buy new ones the next year.”  I was shocked because this was coming from someone who, relative to us, made very little money.  Her point was these things are so cheap why save them?

Each of us must take responsibility for our plastic bottle usage.

1)      Bring your own re-useable bottles.

2)      Return to the old practice of filling IGLOOs with ice and water and supplying paper cups at parties, meetings and sporting events.

3)      When you buy think QUALITY, not quantity.

My mother used to tell me it was better to save your money to buy something of quality.  You might have fewer things, but the things you have will last longer and you will appreciate them more because you had to wait for them.

Each of us needs to reduce our plastic usage so Alaia has to figure out a different way to buy a wheelchair.


Tales by Chapter

%d bloggers like this: